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Art History

Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist  --  René Magritte

Local Art Resources

The Chicago metropolitan area is home to a wide variety of cultural institutions. A visit can often provide inspiration as well as information, and should not be overlooked as a potential source for research. Major examples include:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago
    The Art Institute is one of the world's preeminent art museums, with impressive collections of antiquities, Impressionism, Japanese prints, as well as modern and contemporary art--over 300,000 items in all. Special exhibitions mounted throughout the year highlight specific artists and themes, and allow the museum to host famous works on loan from other institutions.
    • The AIC is home to the Ryerson and Burnham Library, an art-centered research library open to the public. The library is an outstanding resource for difficult to find materials, including an extensive collection of exhibition catalogs. The library's catalog is available online.
    • Undergraduate admission to the AIC is available with your Wildcard
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art
    Since 1967, the MCA has focused on contemporary culture and the arts, and provided critical support for emerging artists and innovative media. The MCA has over 2500 items in its permanent collection, all of which can be seen online.
    • Admission to the MCA is free for NU students
  • The Mary & Leigh Block Musuem of Art
    The Block serves to enrich the cultural experience of the Northwestern community through a global exhibition program and a growing permanent collection. The museum is devoted to presenting a wide range of artistic ideas, encouraging interdisciplinary conversation, and collecting to support the Northwestern curriculum.
  • LUMA the Loyola University Museum of Art
  • The Chicago Imagists An interactive online archive of material related to the Chicago Imagist artists of the 1960s and 1970s.


At Northwestern, opportunities for artistic engagement exist beyond the museum setting. The Elizabeth & Todd Warnock Lecture Series brings world-renowned artists, art historians, and scholars of the visual experience to Northwestern for a lecture once per quarter during the academic year. Students also have an opportunity to attend a seminar with the speaker the following day. For a schedule and more information, please check the Department of Art History or the artscircle websites.

Sponsored by the English Department, The Medieval Colloquium is an interdisciplinary lecture series that often includes discussions relevant to the art and artistic environment of the medieval period.